For some of us, the thought of visiting an art museum with your young child causes cold sweats to begin. I’ve been there. But honestly, I’ve had remarkable experiences at art museums with my young kids (and a few close calls). Denver is one of the great cities that makes it easy to introduce visual art to kids, no matter their age.
For this guide, I’m focusing on grade school aged kids, but for the most part, these pieces are interesting for an even younger audience. Our trip was more than an art trip, so if you’re curious, here’s the three-day itinerary for our Denver vacation.
Disclosure: A portion of my trip was hosted by Visit Denver. Other times I paid for tickets to attractions. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own.
Notable Public art in Denver
If the thought of stepping into an art museum with young kids makes you more than a little uneasy, start with checking out a few public art pieces. They’re free and designed to withstand rough weather and touchy-feely kids (usually).
“I See What You Mean” is a pretty iconic sculpture in Denver located at the Convention Center on 14th Street. The giant blue bear is peering into the window of the building. It’s fun and Instagrammable.
Near the Convention Center is another fantastic area, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts complex, where you’ll find numerous pieces of public art indoors and outdoors, including a pair of statues that will probably make your kids chuckle, “Man, Woman.”
Public art isn’t the main draw DCPA. There are several stages for productions ranging from Broadway tours to opera to black box theater plays.
The city is well-known for its murals, and I was determined to find a bunch of them on our visit, especially since we were at a hotel in RiNo, an area known for many great murals. And as life goes with kids, we barely saw any. It was winter after all, when we visited.
Keep your eyes peeled, though, because murals are all over the place.
We walked by this works gorgeous work of a paintbrush wielding lady by Casey Kawaguchi. He has created several free hand murals around the city!
“I See What You Mean” (the blue bear)
“Man, Woman,” Denver Performing Arts Complex
Casey Kawaguchi mural
Denver art museums and galleries
Denver has several specialized museums from western American to contemporary to Kirkland. My kids aren’t exactly niched in their interests just yet (unless you count Minecraft art).
The Denver Museum Art was a good fit for my family. With two buildings, there’s something for everyone. We grabbed a Family brochure when we arrived so we could find the spaces either dedicated to kids or spaces with activities for kids.
One of the more fun activities was like a scavenger hunt in a gallery. We searched for clues in the 19th Century European and American Art gallery to figure out the painting a mischievous pup named Rip had jumped out of.
There are spaces for hands-on art creation within the museum’s many floors, and they’re tied to the art on display in the area.
Denver Art Museum, 100 W. 14th Ave. Parkway
Meow Wolf in Denver
Art that’s in a class of its own, Meow Wolf is an art group based out of New Mexico who opened their third installation, Convergence Station, in Denver in fall 2021. Perhaps the most indescribable and yet the biggest crowd pleaser for art in the city, their installation art is an immersive experience. I guess, a simplified explanation is that you visit four alien worlds at Convergence Station.
I saw all ages exploring and interacting with the spaces together. It’s a place for all abilities (they’ve tried to make it as accessible as possible, but you’ll want to opt to wear your baby and not bring a stroller).
That said, it’s an intense sensory experience with lights, sounds, vibrations and just plain surreal visuals. Some kids may do well with headphones to cut on any possible sensory overload.
Meow Wolf Convergence Station, 1338 First St.
Art in the gardens
My kids’ favorite place in any botanical gardens is the children’s garden, but our winter visit was not great timing to visit that part of the Denver Botanic Gardens. But I digress…this blog post is about art.
First off, there are some wonderful sculptures throughout the gardens. But, parent to parent, my kids were not interested in them. At all.
However, there was a unique augmented reality art experience they enjoyed throughout the gardens. Be sure to download the app Seeing The Invisible.
You’ll come across signs throughout the gardens indicating there’s more than meets the eye where you’re standing. Use the app to find the artist-created artwork. It’s sometimes trippy, sometimes awe-inspiring. It’s a creative way to draw the digital era kids into the gardens even if it is through a screen on a phone.
Denver Botanic Gardens, 1007 York St.